"Prioritizing" health means sacrifices
You hear people all the time talking about finally making health, diet or fitness a priority.
We're usually well intentioned we say these things, but the reality is that we're often just make these things a priority verbally and not actually making changes in our life that will make the difference.
Think about it like this- truly "prioritizing" health could mean taking on a different job that pays less, something few people would actually go through with. If you have multiple children under 18, in a sense, you could never actually prioritize your own health and fitness.
The point is not to give up or use your job or kids as an excuse, but to adjust our expectations and come up with realistic ways of maintaining fitness without making it the most important thing in our life.
Managing expectations and understanding what it actually takes to get to the level you're daydreaming about can help us come up with fitness or lifestyle changes that truly reflect our priorities.
You have to be honest with yourself
Being realistic about commitment levels also helps with adherence; instead of coming up with overly ambitious programs or diets doomed to fail after a few days, weeks, or months, we have a better shot at making moderate changes that will stick for the long term.
We are all forced to make tough decisions about what we can and cannot squeeze into this life, and optimal health and fitness may not always be attainable in the face of other obligations. I do not think it is a "limiting belief" or being "negative" to suggest that out of the following, the vast majority of us will not tick every box:
- Raising a family (and doing a decent job of it)
- Having a healthy, lifelong relationship
- Having a rewarding, high paying career and retiring at 65
- Traveling the world
- Being in excellent shape/ having a good diet
- Having friends and a vibrant social life
- Maintaining or attaining mental health, peace of mind etc
Are there people doing all these things? Of course and we rightly strive for most of them, but again, the reality is that for most of us, especially who are middle class or lower, trying to accomplish all these things is probably not happening. How many people do you know that have hit every one of those?
If you can accomplish 5 or 6, in my opinion, you've done pretty well for yourself.
So when it comes to wanting 10% bodyfat at 40 when you work 60 hours a week, have 3 kids and a marriage on the rocks, we have to be realistic. We cannot make changes like this without sacrifice. Are you willing to take on a lower paying job so you can really commit to fitness? Are you willing to sacrifice a kitchen renovation or a new truck to get in shape? Can you even do these things?
I'm in great shape at 37- but what you don't see is that I took almost an entire year off working to get my life together and payed out of pocket to do so. "Must be nice!" I can hear you saying, but it actually took a huge sacrifice to make happen. I'll be dealing with the financial fallout for years.
But that is true prioritization. It was worth it to me- it might not be for you. Would you flip your 2016 F150 for Car2Go or live in a smaller house to really get a handle on health and fitness? These are extreme measures and not even an option for some. I'm not suggesting people have to quit their jobs to get in shape, but when your expectations are too high about what we can realistically squeeze into a week, failure is likely.
In fitness and diet, adherence is everything
The plans, programs and diets that succeed are the ones that can be maintained long term- and we must take a sober evaluation of what we prioritize in life. People over selling their products will make you believe that you not being in shape is simply a matter of you not executing properly, when in reality many of us simply cannot muster the time or resources to tick every box of life without making sacrifices in another area.
Any work I do with fitness and lifestyle coaching is about priorities; the first stage is always evaluating values and what's really important to you. Only then can we come up with plan that truly honors what you want out of life in a realistic way. Trying to have a 6 pack while raising a family, working full time, seeing friends, traveling regularly and having time for the spouse might not be an option despite what we want to believe. If fitness was a priority, you'd already have it.
Let's shoot for a 4 pack for now.
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